Today we talk about Chad’s grudges against a couple of celebrities (and one department store), funeral singing, neanderthal DNA, and family worship.
Christianity has grown rather clingy. As the world takes more and more small steps away from this faith, we seem to be grabbing onto whichever celebrity or politician that happens to come floating by. If a famous actor mentions God in a speech, we adopt him as our new spokesperson. If a politician claims that the Bible is a favorite book, we hail him as the next great hope for our nation. It’s like the America we know and love, that Christian-friendly place, has taken a hike up to the mountain, and we, like the Israelites down below, are working with all our might to build some semblance of an idol that we can look to and believe in.
Eventually those same Israelites turned to Samuel and demanded a king. (1 Samuel 8) They had a King. The Great I Am. The Alpha and Omega. God Almighty was their good and perfect ruler. But, that wasn’t enough for them. The Creator of the Universe just didn’t fit the bill for the kind of king that they felt they needed. They wanted to be like the other nations. Samuel, why can’t WE have a guy in a crown that we can bow down to? they whined. Why can’t we have a flesh and blood master to rule over us?
God gave them what they wanted. They preferred a sin-sick, flawed, wicked-at-heart human being over Him. They wanted to be ruled by a man who would have a tendency toward evil because, hey, at least they could see him. At least they could look and act like all the other nations who were being run by corrupt humans.
Thus, came a long line of kings, some good, but the vast majority were bad, very bad, or downright villainous. The people got what they asked for.
Fast forward to the appearance of Jesus. The descendants of those unwise Israelites were still looking for a ruler who would make them powerful like other nations, especially the Romans. And, here came Jesus. God in the flesh. He came to talk about the ways that sin was killing them. About how dark and depraved their hearts really were. About how the real issue with humanity has nothing to do with who has the political power, and everything to do with who knows God the Father in a real, born-again, self-denying, God-glorifying way. And, still, the majority of them missed the point. (John 6:15) And, by the time King Jesus ascended to heaven to reign forever, most of His early followers had already moved on to the next big thing, clinging to flawed human beings, convinced that political dominance was the way of God. Completely forgetting, of course, the lowly, humble, servant life of the Son of God, they continued in their search for strength among the earthly kingdoms that they could see and touch and put their faith in.
And, here we are. Spiritual descendants of the very Israelites who built that golden calf in the desert. Of the Hebrews who turned to Samuel with their fists balled up, demanding that God give them something lesser so that they could feel more important. We are really no different than the followers of Jesus who forgot all about the words He said and the life He lived, looking instead to wicked human beings who might have enough guts to gain some political power for a humbled people. We have an eternally perfect, all-powerful, all-knowing, unceasingly good, incorruptibly wise King. Jesus Christ.
But, what we really want is an earthly king.
And, so we cling to personalities and promises of hope. We cling to influencers and self-promoters, and we follow the money and the clout, sure that if we keep clinging desperately to one of these flawed humans, eventually one of them is going to turn everything around for us.
No earthly king is ever going to satisfy. No amount of political power is ever going to save us. God’s kingdom isn’t measured in how well “Christian” issues are doing in the polls. Man looks at the outward appearance. We look at how many rights Christians have and how much freedom that we enjoy. We look at how our morals are reflected in the political landscape. We think if our chosen politicians are winning, then that means God is winning. We think if there are enough Christian movies at the box office and enough Christian music on the radio, then Jesus is being properly honored. Therefore, we, His children, are being properly honored. If the laws line up with our faith, then God is being respected, and so are we. It feels so much better when Jesus is popular. And when we are popular. And when the ideals of our faith are popular.
If we could just find that one celebrity endorsement that would make us cool again.
We keep searching. God holds us tightly in His never-tired grip, and we keep desperately grasping for other kings.
Why are we so panicked? Where can the frenzy of worry lead us except back that same old spot, where we forget who the real Leader is and start piecing together an idol to cling to? The government. The politician. The celebrity pastor. The Supreme Court Justice. The personality. The money. They are all just different versions of the same golden calf. Inferior kings. Corrupt, ineffective, disappointing saviors.
But, there is One who has been faithful in every promise He ever made. Governments rise and fall. People make mistake after mistake. But, Jesus Christ never changes. He never fails. And, He reigns now and forever, regardless of how the United States of America may feel about it. That’s my king. I cling to Him alone.
And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:16
This may come as a shock to you, but my children aren’t perfect. Yes, it’s true. They make mistakes. They talk back sometimes. They even lie. They disobey. They act in selfish ways.
And, I don’t want to burst your bubble, but my husband? My PASTOR husband? He sins. I know it’s difficult to imagine it, but my husband is a sinner.
And I, well, I am undoubtedly the most prolific sinner in our household. I think, say and do all kinds of things that prove that I am in desperate need of saving. I hurt myself and I hurt those closest to me with my selfish nature.
I don’t walk around my house believing that my husband and kids are all absolutely perfect. And, they certainly aren’t under any illusions that I don’t do things I shouldn’t. But, the fact that we are all active sinners doesn’t change in any way the fact that we love each other with all of our hearts.
This is Christianity. Christianity loves anyway. It says, Yes, I know you’re messed up. I see it. But, I love you despite that.
The recognition of sin and the presence of love are not mutually exclusive.
All over the internet I see the mischaracterizations of Christianity. I see the calls for radical love, the accusations that Christians are are nothing but hateful, judgmental Pharisees. Because we see the sins that plague the world (and our own hearts). Because we want to declare that God’s word is true and right. Because we are desperate to be honest with God and with ourselves in declaring that we are all sinners, every one.
Yes, even you.
Even the beloved celebrities that cause us so much turmoil in the world of social media.
We see the sin problems, within us and around us. And, we must speak those problems to each other. Yes, we must. We must call sin what it is, whether it is in our own children or in our own hearts.
Or in a celebrity cover story.
Why? Because we hate people? Because we enjoy seeing people fail? No, exactly opposite. Because we love people. Because we want to see people reconciled to God.
Christianity must speak truth. Ignoring the truth or trying to pretend that it doesn’t exist is dishonest. Love isn’t avoiding the truth because you’re afraid of being unpopular. Love isn’t staying silent because you don’t want to offend. Love isn’t watching the world go to hell.
I love my children and my husband, and I see the sin in their lives. They love me, and they know I am the biggest sinner around. Love and truth telling go hand in hand, no matter what kind of names people call you for it on the internet.
Sin hurts people. Radical love seeks to save people from hurt. Sin kills. Radical love seeks to save.
There is only one avenue to radical love, and it isn’t saying I’m okay, you’re okay. The only path to radical love is saying I’m not okay, and you’re not okay. We’re dead in our sins, and we need new life.
So, Christians, speak the truth, always remembering that you are in need of saving just as much as the next person. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that the gospel is offensive. The truth about sin never has a pleasing ring to it. It sounds harsh and hard. But, it paves the way for the beauty of Christ and the most radical love that ever was.